Monday, November 5, 2012

The Bear Hug

My baby wears a leash.
Only, we call it the Bear Hug.
Don't judge.

I have raised three boys.  3.  I'm not new to this.  The first boy I resisted the urge to use the Bear Hug because I, like so many, had strong opinions about it.  I also had two free hands and only one boy.  So when he slipped away and ran into traffic it had my full attention.  By the time I had my second boy, I started to run short on hands and attention.  So we got the Bear Hug.  And we loved it!  Now we are on our third boy and our relationship had moved beyond love to utter appreciation.

The fourth of July was the first time we brought out the Bear Hug for our 3rd boy.  He was almost 2 years old at the time and we were attending a large festival in our city.  Anyone who has ever pushed a stroller is well aware that people in crowds DO NOT move out of the way of a stroller and make no consideration for families with strollers.  In a crowd it's just every man for himself.  So we chose to use the Bear Hug.

I wish you could have seen our little boy!  Oh the taste of freedom!  He just couldn't believe his luck!  He spent the day with a huge grin plastered across his face and running through the crowd with his arms out to the side like an airplane!  He was in heaven!

BUT- you should have seen people's reactions to my child and his leash.  You would have thought I had handed him a bottle of gin and a smoke and sent him into the crowd.  People literally pointed and stared.  Meanwhile, other people sat in the crowd on their blankets smoking within feet of other peoples' children and that was okay.  But me and my safety leash- oh nooooo!  The horror!

About half way through the day my leash was justified in the saddest way.  As my toddler ran and tugged and pulled me though the crowd, we passed a mother with four children (age baby to about 8) and she was talking to the police.  Her children were crying and she was visibly distressed.  She had lost her 5th child and was working with the police to find him or her.  I said a quick prayer for her.  I hope I never know that feeling.  But that moment solidified my love for the bear hug.

The same people that judge you for using the leash are the ones that will also judge you for "letting" your child get lost or hit by a car.  The reality is that some kids will stay by your side and never think about stepping away from you.  Good for those families.  The other reality is that some kids have a spirit that takes them beyond their parents reach- literally.  I've raised both kinds of children.

So I will strap my kid in and let him wear his Bear Hug all day long!  The freedom makes him happy and the safety makes me happy.  I know this is a hot topic for families (and even people without kids) but I think it really boils down to what a parent feels is right in order to keep their children safe.  And safety for my boys comes in the form of a Bear Hug!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Long and Broken Road

It's been two and a half years since we lost my father in law to suicide.  

That sentence kinda needs a moment to hang in the air.  Because that's where his death remains.  In the air.  It's always there.  Always in the room.  Since my husband has began to process his father's death, I refer to the suicide as the third person in our marriage.  Of all of the things my husband and I have navigated in our 14 years together, this is the hardest.  It's unfix-able.  There's no way to make it go away.  It's just here.  In the air.

Yet as present as it is, the void that my husband feels is vast.  It's so big that he doesn't know how to fill it.  And here I stand, as his wife, tasked for eternity with ridding him of what hurts him, and I can't.  I can't fix this.  I can't explain or kiss it away.  I can't find the way out and I don't have the answers.  That is a helpless feeling when it's my job to make this man happy and heal what hurts him.

Since we met there has been this balance in our relationship.  I am the mouthy, moody, spirited one and he is the mellow one who pats me on the head and brings me back to level.  But since my father in law's death, the balance has shifted.  My husband is now left on the other side of the scale with the mood swings and the short temper and I am clinging to his side of the scale trying to figure out how to keep things mellow and pat him on the head.  It's a shift in balance I'll accept because when we said our vows, I meant them.  For better and for worse.  But I'll admit I'm struggling.

I want to make this better.  I want to get my husband back and sometimes I'm scared that I'll never know that same man.  I know that over the course of our lives together we will inevitably change.  We evolve and we grow.  I understand this.  I was 22 when I met my husband so we obviously have changed with each other over the last 14 years.  But this is different.  This is beyond change.  This is a change in who he is in his spirit.  He is hurt and wounded and I worry that it will stay with him.  That the very spirit of who he is won't be able to find it's way back.  And part of me worries that this change in spirit will lead him down the same road as his father.

Irrational? Maybe.  My husband has promised repeatedly to never hurt us like that.  But what I have learned in the last two and a half years is that people who hurt like this don't always plan an end for years.  They try their absolute hardest to hang on.  They push it down and force their smiles and they love and nurture the hell out of the people around them because they have so much love for them.  But in the end, they can't reconcile that deep down pain and it overwhelms them.

The first year we didn't get to process my father in law's death because we were in survival mode when I had to be on bed rest from 13 weeks pregnant to delivery at 39 weeks.  Then once we had the baby and it looked like things were okay, the baby and I were hit by a drunk driver when he was 4 weeks old.  Four weeks after that I had surgery to have my gall bladder removed.  So for a year I was the reason that my husband couldn't grieve.  I hate that.  So I will do everything that I am able to do to help him now.  I listen when he needs to talk, I give him space when he needs it, I take him to Survivors of Suicide meetings, I have even taken him to a medium so he could speak with his dad.  All of these things have helped.  But none have been the fix.  I don't think there is one.  And that is hard.

I miss my father in law.  I am sad that he won't be physically here to know my children.  I am sad that he missed my brother in law's wedding to his amazing wife last year.  I am sad that he left his wife when she thought they had the rest of their lives together.  I miss his phone calls.  I miss the bond that he had with our oldest son.  I miss his photographs.  I miss his smile.  I miss his hugs.

I am sad that my husband lost his best friend.

I love my husband in ways I can't even put to words.  I am committed to this man for eternity.  He is my heart and soul.  I won't give up on him.  But this is a long and broken road that I don't know how to pave.  I also don't know where this road leads.  But all I can do is trust in God to keep us on the path He has chosen.  We will make our way together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Old House

My house was built in the 70's.  The carpet is over 10 years old and shows its age quite clearly.  The furniture is... well loved.  The kitchen is outdated and there's a cabinet door missing.  The whole house inside and out could use a new coat of paint.  The landscaping needs attention and the irrigation hasn't worked in years.  The fence proved no match for my dog several months ago which resulted in a 5 day vacation from our yard.  Our windows are single pane aluminum frame and our electric bill reflects their ability to keep heat in and cold out.

There are toys everywhere.  Dishes in the sink.  Laundry to be done.  Always laundry.  My teenager's room smells like a teenagers room.  Chances are if you turn the TV on it's set to Sprout.  When attempting to walk through any part of my house you will most likely trip over a dog, child, toy, or some form of clothing.

I don't have a sparkling clean house.  I don't have the nicest, newest things.  I work two jobs, raise 3 kids, have 3 dogs, and 1 husband.  I drive a mini-van.  Yet I don't want for anything.  There is nothing in my life I'd trade for an upgrade.

The age, condition, and contents of my house are what make it a home.  Shiny and new don't make a home. Clean and sparkling don't make a home.  The coolest gadgets and furniture don't make a home.  My home is lived in.  Anyone can walk through my dirty door and see that there is an abundance of life and love in our home.  

The toys that clutter the ground mean that I am blessed to have my children.  Some are not.

The old windows and broken cabinets afford me the opportunity to work hard and appreciate the replacement when it happens.  Those who do not want, do not appreciate.

The overgrown yard means my weekends are filled with family, friends, and many things to do.  Some don't know the joys of full days.

The dishes in the sink mean that I was blessed to cook for my family.  Some have only themselves.

My pastor always says that life comes in seasons.  Perhaps someday we'll get the new carpet or the new fence.  Maybe someday I'll drive a car that doesn't have three rows of seating.  And we'll see if someday I am able to come home from work and read a book instead of making dinner and picking up the house.  But for now, these things all mean that I have love in my home.  My old, run down, dirty home.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peek-a-Boo! I Smell You!

I have been M.I.A.- I know.  Life gets a little busy with a husband, three boys, and a full time job.  And now, because I obviously needed MORE to do, I have started my own business!  I have always been outspoken and full of personality.  People pick up on it (especially at in home parties) and are always trying to get me to sell this or that.  Make Up, Scrapbooking, Candles, Food, etc.  But it's never been my thing.  I already have my hands full!  Turns out I just never found something that I was passionate enough about.  Until I was introduced to Scentsy.

Last fall the company I work for sent Scentsy Warmers and some bars to each of our office.  They did spicy scents to invoke cozy Holiday memories for the customers that visited our office.  We had a put out a Pumpkin scent for Thanksgiving and a bayberry and cinnamon scent for Christmas.  We have quite a large office space so I was a little doubtful that this little warmer thingy could make such a large space smell good.  But it did!  Amazing!  And everyone who walked through the door commented on it.

This made me think that this little warmer thingy might work well in my house.  I am a smell freak.  I have drawers full of candles and storage bins full of various sprays, plug ins, and reeds.  But in a house with 3 boys, 1 husband, & 3 dogs nothing had worked the way I really needed it to.  So I figured I'd add this to my Christmas list and we could see if it ended up being what I was looking for or if it ended up in the storage container of other failed items.

My husband, bless his heart, doesn't do computers.  So while he knew I wanted a Scentsy warmer for Christmas he didn't know where to get it.  So he got me a knock off version and its bars from a local grocery store.  I was quite excited!  My 5 year old had selected scents himself and he helped me set up the warmer on Christmas Day.  So excited!  But then, a dud.   The waxes they got me required the FULL BAR in order to produce a noticeable smell.  So that week I got on Ebay and found some Scentsy bars for sale. Aaaaaaah, much better!

Then one day an Instagram friend posted some pictures of her Scentsy Inventory.  WHAT?!  I had no idea she was a consultant!  So I contacted her so I could do an order.  I ordered a combo pack and got a REAL Scentsy warmer, a plug in warmer, and some more bars.  In talking with my friend, she offered to set up an online party and send me her samples so I could take them to my friends.  This was great for me because I loved the product so much but didn't want to have an in home party.  Through my online party I was able to earn enough FREE product and credit to buy a Silhouette warmer & the two additional wraps, a Twinkle Warmer, and 3 bars of scent.  This would have been $124.00 if I hadn't hosted my party.  But because my friends bought so much, I was able to earn enough free product and half price items to get it for less than $50.00!  I.  Was.  Hooked.

I signed up and became a consultant.  Never had I been so passionate about ANY product.  But after years of searching for the magic bullet that would make my home smell more welcoming and less- manly, I knew I wanted to help other people discover it as well!  As I had more children I couldn't keep open flames going around the house so the candles all ended up in a drawer.  And the plug ins worked if you replaced them constantly.  And let's face it- constantly replacing candles and plug ins is expensive!  So what I loved about my Scentsy warmer was that for between $20-35 (The price of ONE decent jar candle) I could buy the warmer.  Then after that the bars are just $5.00!  And they last 60-80 hours!  That's 2 full weeks of non-stop use.  So if you never turn your warmer off you get 2 full weeks of amazing smell.  But most of us will turn off our warmers when we are asleep or when we go to work.  So really a bar lasts a month!  That's way cheaper than candles or plug ins!  Plus you can change out the smells whenever you want.

Once I signed up I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scentsy provides a copious amount of free sales and marketing materials to its consultants through our online work bench.  And if you want added party or marketing materials there's an online store and everything is extremely reasonably priced.  You are truly a business owner.  Scentsy offers online training, resources, incentive trips, certifications, annual conferences, and recognition!  Where has this been all my life!  So my first goal is to introduce Scentsy to more people through sales and through introducing them to the opportunity to own their own business.  The second goal is to be able to quit my full time job within the next 1-2 years and sell Scentsy full time.  Sound impossible?  Check into Scentsy.  This is one of the fastest growing companies in the US and it's going global as we speak!

I am so committed to this company so if you want to know more just let me know.  There's way to sell Scentsy for every personality type.  Shy?  Basket parties and online parties may be your ticket.  Super outgoing?  Then in home parties and local business sales may be right for you!  Plus, you can take your kids with you!  I am doing a party this week and my 5 year old will be coming with to play with their kids.  There' so reason not to try!  Visit my site to buy Scentsy, book a party opportunity, or to join my team and make this your career!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Drunk Driver,

Dear Drunk Driver,

It's been 15 months since you hit us. I know this because my baby, who was 4 weeks old and in the car, is now 16 months old. I know that because I have been in pain for 15 months. I have been through physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, and three rounds of cortisone injections in the last 15 months. I have been on pain killers for 15 months. And I am still not fixed.

I have trouble lifting my right arm due to the damaged disks in my neck that have left me with painful nerve damage in my arm. It's painful to put on a jacket or fasten my own bra. It's hard to lift my own children. My arm is weak. I've woken up in the middle of the night unable to feel my arm or tell if my hand is touching something. Thanks for that.

I am now 2 inches shorter than I was before you slammed into us. TWO inches. That's about 1/2 and inch for each disk that you damaged. My spine is still a bit twisted. While it's no longer this bad,

My hips don't sit even and I wear down the botton of the shoes on my right foot faster that my left and the clothes I wear always end up twisted to the right of my body.  I have had chronic headaches since the accident.  For months they were so painful I couldn't get out of bed some days until the handful of painkillers finally set in.  This made me unable to take care of my children. 

So tell me drunk driver, were those few beers worht it?  Did you have a good time with your buddies?  Was it worth it not to wait until you were 21 to drink?  Was it worth it not to wait a few hours until you were sober before driving home?

For the record, I don't wish you harm.  I don't want your life to be ruined by this event.  You were just a kid.  But I do want you to learn.  I hope this has been an aweful experience for you too.  I hope you kow how lucky you are that no one was killed that night.  I hope you realize that God was with you.  Yes.  You.  You were so lucky that we were all in S.U.V.'s and that the car you hit head on after you hit us was a Hummer.  You were blessed that night just as we were.  But I hope that this shook you.  I hope you NEVER make this choice again. I hope that when you got out of your car and saw that you hit a car full of babies that it shook you. I hope you understand the repricussions and that you don't think yourself the victim.  I hope you understand why you went to jail and why it's hard to get insurance now or why employers may pass you up because of your history.  And I hope you take all these seriosly and accept your responisbility for them.

As for me, I am still working on recovery.  Pain free days are few and far between and surgery may be in my future as all the therapies we've tried these last 15 months haven't yielded results.  There's been improvement, but I'm not fixed.  I'm tired of doctor's appointments and pain killers.  I'm tired of not being able to sleep or waking up in pain. I'm tired of having to think about how I'm going to carry my baby.  I'm just tired.

So please drunk driver, promise you'll never do this again.  Please know it's not worth it.  Please tell your friends how hard this has been.  Now that you know better, do better.